The Forgetful Heart

[4] Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [5] You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. [6] And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. [7] You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. [8] You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. [9] You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

(Deuteronomy 6:4-9)


This passage is a familiar one for many who have been exposed to the Bible for a good amount of their lives. The Hebrew term for this particular section of Scripture is “The Shema”, which to this day is a daily prayer of devotion for practicing Jews. It is named thusly for its opening word, which is correctly translated as “hear”. Further translated, the command is meant to produce obedience through what is audibly heard.

Although many times this particular passage is taught with the intention of instilling within us the importance of being trained up in the knowledge of Scripture, I believe there is more than meets the eye through this instruction. 

Read it again. What is constant?

Throughout these verses, you find that Moses was beckoning the people to REMEMBER the words of God. He longs for each person to internalize God’s commandments (verse 6). I believe the psalmist similarly understood the importance of allowing Scripture to root itself in one’s heart when he declared, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11, NIV). It’s hard to remove something when it’s hidden, right? When we are consumed with God’s Word and allow it to fill us, it will be so deeply ingrained in us that it cannot easily be removed. It becomes a part of our very essence….something that cannot be forgotten. 

Moses encourages Israel to constantly surround themselves with the Scriptures. He instructs the people to keep the law ever before them. “Talk about it. Write about it. Hang it in your homes. Do whatever it takes to keep from forgetting what God has spoken.”

Why do you think he was so insistent? I submit that he, based on personal experience, understood that the sinner’s heart is innately prone to forget God in the hustle and bustle of life.

Flip back a couple of chapters to Deuteronomy 4 and you will find Moses demanding obedience from the people in response to the words that God gave him. While speaking to them he warns, “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life” (verse 9, emphasis added).

Let’s not overlook the fact that he is speaking to people who had, with their very eyes, seen God miraculously rescue them from the land of Egypt and lead them through the wilderness. Even with physical evidence of God’s faithfulness they were spiritual nomads, wandering from the God who lovingly intervened in their lives time and time again. 

If the Israelites, who could physically sense God’s presence in their midst, needed reminders, it should go without saying that we desperately need to be reminded of what God’s Word says to us as well. We are commanded to “love the LORD [our] God with all [our] heart and with all [our] soul and all [our] might” (6:5). How can we express our love if we allow ourselves to forget who He is and what He has done for us (especially through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ)?

We need daily reminders of the gospel. It’s good for our souls to be reminded of the depth of our sin and the glorious rescue mission of Jesus Christ, who ransomed us from the death we had earned by substituting Himself in our place. THAT is something that is worth remembering!

We’re a forgetful people, so we must train ourselves to daily experience the Word of God in order to cling to the Savior and put aside our fleshly tendency to run away from Him. The grace He has for us is too costly to neglect, and we must constantly put ourselves in a position to think upon His goodness towards us. 

Talk about it. Write it down. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself of the beautiful gospel message, for it is our everything.




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